Who wants to see how the other half lives?

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Matching unknown people to their partners is a skill that those with friends who are dilatory hosts pick up quite quickly. "Not the blonde? But she must be half his age ... " etc. So a show based on such a premise really ought to succeed. Unhappily, The Other Half (BBC1, Sat) is Mr and Mrs without the emotional depth and Blind Date without the adventure. It's an example of a show that misses too many tricks through its own caution.

True, the couples have a snog and are examined for tell-tale lack of passion, but they cannily ensure that their familiarity is disguised, kissing each other vigorously. They then answer a couple of routine and unrevealing questions about their predilections, and judgment is summarily made. Pooh.

Now consider what might have been asked of them, so as to uncover how intimately they knew one another. By no means all of it would have been sexual, though a dollop of "does he like to talk in bed" would have livened things up a little. Their attitudes to each other's parents, friends, hobbies or even ex-partners could have been fun.

The women questioners did best, of course. This week's news that girls have an active "social" gene helps to explain why it was always they, and not their hopeless hubbies, who sussed the partnerships out. But even the best chromosomed lady would have had trouble on Tuesday in answering the question: which one of these five men matches this party? Is it Ken? Or William? Not Michael or Peter? It couldn't possibly be John, could it? And as we discovered in The Tory Leadership: Round One (BBC2), no one could guess - not even the 164 duffers, turncoats, buffoons and thwarted rulers whose job it was to make the decision.

The programme was introduced live from the BBC's Millbank Studios by the excellent Nick Ross, who - for once - forgot to leave his Crimewatch voice over in Television Centre. As a result, his description of the arcane process for electing a Conservative leader was very like one of his accounts of how armed raiders had botched a security van job in Sidcup.

And in a way, a crime was being committed. The next leader of one of the great parties may well originally have been the preferred candidate of just 41 people in this country; an absurd anachronism, given televisual substance by the party's refusal to allow the cameras in to record the announcement of the result. Consequently the live programme spent a lot of time trying to work out what had actually happened.

But as events unfolded throughout the day, no one, it seemed, could be interviewed without John Redwood crossing the frame in the background. He was perpetually immanent, as though being fingered by an anti-Tory Providence for the job of last leader for the Conservatives.

Don't despair. Mr Redwood is quite likely to have been a Spock child, brought up according to the liberal precepts of the genial American doctor, whose life and legacy were examined in Reputations: Doctor Spock (BBC2 Wed). Spock (who is still alive at 94) wrote a book which ended a hundred years of oppressive child-rearing. But the producer had uncovered a contradiction between what he taught and how he treated his children. It was quite a small one actually; he didn't hug. But these days hugging is de rigeur. Everyone hugs. Families hugs. Friends hug. People who meet each other for the first time on game shows hug. Pretty soon Conservative leadership candidates will be seen hugging. But ol' Spockie didn't hug.

His own New England childhood prevented him, a childhood that was repeatedly invoked by autumnal leaves swirling madly - as though a hurricane had got lost in Florida, and made its way north. Another favoured device was the use of a ubiquitous red divan. This arbitrary symbol of psychoanalysis recurred throughout the film, alternately seating a baby (representing the infant Spock) and Spock's two sons, who - separately - turned up from time to time to slag their father off for his various crimes and misdemeanours. Like how he had "embarrassed" his boys through his forays into politics. But both Spocks jnr were 30-ish at the time, and that, I think, is too old to be embarrassed by your dad. It makes you wonder whether some kids can ever forgive their parents for being successful - or, indeed, whether it's in their interests to - given what a convenient alibi parental success provides for one's own failure.

The house-proud parents of 12-year-old Paul, the anti-hero of The Trouble With Boys (BBC2 Mon-Thurs) may not have read much Spock. This boy seemed to have an active anti-social gene, and cudgeled his family's ears with thousand-decibel squeals. Paul stole, was in perpetual trouble at school, and his mum and dad were in loving despair - trapped in a cycle of yelling.

The great truth, as the programme pointed out, was that if parents cannot reward their children for good behaviour and encourage them when they do well, then they will pay for it as the child seeks attention through being bad. Therapists were on hand to help in this restrained and interesting series.

I wasn't sure, however, what the deal was with the cameras. Some were fixed, others appeared to have camera-operators attached to them, endangering the naturalness of the action. Nor was it entirely clear why we were talking about boys only. And have the programme's makers considered what happens to nice boys when they grow up these days?

One answer was given in Tuesday's sequence from Video Nation (BBC2), and it was just about the funniest thing I have seen this year. In it one of the regulars (the gormless Brighton lass with the nose-stud and adenoids) introduced us to her nerdy bespectacled mate, Kai, who she was going to accompany - in her words - "to get his dick pierced". Which he did, bravado and fear mingling deliciously as he was first swabbed and then mutilated by a smiling man with long hair and suspiciously thick glasses.

Once again there was too much fastidiousness on show. I, for one, wanted to see where the stud actually went, but the camera never wandered below the waist. In Driving School (BBC1, Tues), however, there is nowhere the camera won't go. There are at least two inside each car in which the learner drivers are being taught: one above the mirror, and one below the dash. The oddest one, though, is the camera that is allowed to prowl bedrooms at night. We are witness to Maureen's sleepless night before the written test. We see her toss and turn, wake her husband, demand to be tested on her Highway Code. But what are we doing there, in her bedroom? I mean, did she really try and go to sleep with a three-man crew sitting in the corner, gossiping gently to each other about restaurants in the area and PAs they had shagged? "Don't mind us, love, you just try and get some rest. If anything happens, we'll be here to film it."

No wonder she couldn't nod off. Maureen - a truly atrocious driver - eventually suffered a debacle in the written exam. Cruelly one said to oneself, "She'll never pass. She should never be allowed to pass. She's just a bloody idiot." And then she broke down into tears of self-recognition (the same tears she probably shed at school and after a thousand incompetent job interviews), sobbing, "I'm just a bloody idiot." "No!" we cried. "Maureen, you are no such thing! You can do it, girl. Don't give up!"

Which is not what one wishes to shout at silly socialite Tamara Beckwith when she is on telly, which she was, lying arse-up on a sofa in Class (ITV, Tues). In this series the producers wished to replicate the success of the fast-paced, candyfloss-content Hollywood Lives; a series that depended upon grotesqueries, such as the appalling tales of dick surgery gone wrong (Kai must have been up a tree for that show).

But there is nothing more to be said about the upper class. I do not give a toss about them. The talentless gang of trust-fund babes, debs, brattish friends of Liz Hurley, polo players, Cowes-boys, Etonians and sub-teen ball-goers all leave me with a feeling of utter indifference. Their empty hedonism is tedious enough in itself, but the obsession of certain idiot journalists with it is incredibly, almost painfully, boring. This is a dying, marginal world, where money substitutes for vigour, humour and enterprise; a world that was truly stuffed on 1 May.

Try this rule of thumb. If a film has John McCririck, AA Gill or Tamara Beckwith in it, it's meretricious cack. And if it has all three ...

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